NBA Atlantic Division Battle: Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics

Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics
TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts

Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 7:35 pm Eastern, TV: NBA League Pass
Opening Line: Toronto -2
Current Line: Boston -2
Opening Total: 206 1/2
Current Total: 208 1/2
Opening Money Line: Raptors -135 / Celtics +115
Current Money Line: Celtics -140 / Raptors +120 

Toronto travels to Boston with both teams trying to solidify their playoff seeding.
Toronto travels to Boston with both teams trying to solidify their playoff seeding.

Both the 48-32 Toronto Raptors and 38-42 Boston Celtics have clinched playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The two meet Tuesday in Boston with playoff seeding on the line for both teams.

Toronto has already clinched the Atlantic Division title and would currently be the #4 seed in the East. However, Toronto is only a half game behind the Chicago Bulls for the #3 seed. If the Raptors and Bulls end up tied then Toronto would get the tiebreaker based on being a division champion. The #3 seed will get the #6 seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, while the #4 seed has a tougher match-up against the #5 Washington Wizards.

Boston clinched a playoff spot last night and would currently be the #7 seed, where the #2 seed Cleveland Cavaliers await in the first round. The Celtics are only a game ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the #8 seed with two games to play. A Boston win tonight would clinch the #7 seed as the Celtics hold the head to head tiebreaker over the Pacers.

Toronto leads the series 2-1 against Boston this season. The Raptors won in Boston 110-107 November 5 and in Toronto 109-96 January 10. Boston won in Toronto 117-116 in overtime April 4. The Raptors had beaten the Celtics four straight times before that game.

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Toronto is coached by Dwane Casey. The Raptors have gone 6-2 in their last 8 games, including 3 straight wins all on the road. Toronto has never gone 4-0 on a road trip in franchise history. Toronto won at the Miami Heat 107-104 Sunday. The Raptors are 37-42-1 ATS and the total is 45-35 this season. Toronto was a 3.5 point underdog against Miami and the total was 197.

Boston is coached by Brad Stevens. The Celtics clinched a playoff spot last night when the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Chicago Bulls. On February 2 Boston was 14 games under .500 and the playoffs seemed like a pipe dream at best. The Celtics have gone 22-12 since then to make the playoffs. Boston has gone 6-1 in their last 7 games including a 4 game winning streak. Boston swept a home and home against Cleveland including a 117-78 destruction in Boston Sunday. The Cavaliers rested LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love having already clinched the #2 seed in the playoffs. The Celtics are 47-32-1 ATS and the total is 41-38-1 this season. Boston was a 10 point favorite against Cleveland and the total was 197.

Toronto is outscoring teams 104-101 this season. The Raptors are #4 in scoring but #21 in points allowed in the NBA. Toronto is shooting 45.5% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. The Raptors make 78.7% of their free throws and are #2 in the league. Opponents are shooting 46.1% from the field and 34.8% from 3 point range. The Raptors are #27 in field goal defense. Toronto averages 41.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.4 per game. The Raptors are #26 in rebounding and #8 in rebounds allowed. Toronto averages 20.7 assists, 12.1 turnovers, 7.5 steals and 4.3 blocks per game.

DeMar DeRozan averages 20.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Kyle Lowry averages 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He missed 7 games with a back injury but has played in the last two games. His shooting touch is a little rusty though as he has gone 7/26 from the field in those two games. Louis Williams averages 15.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Jonas Valunciunas averages 12 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Terrance Ross, Greivis Vasquez, and Amir Johnson all average at least 9.4 points per game. Johnson is doubtful with an ankle injury. Patrick Patterson,  James Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough will also get time in the rotation.

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Boston is outscoring teams 101.4-101.3 this season. The Celtics are #22 in points allowed. Boston is shooting 44.3% from the field and 32.6% from 3 point range. Boston is #20 or worse in both categories. The Celtics make 75.5% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 45% from the field and 33.6% from 3 point range. The Celtics are #3 in 3 point defense. Boston averages 43.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.7 per game. The Celtics are #26 in rebounds allowed. Boston averages 24.4 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 8.2 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Isaiah Thomas was acquired in a mid-season trade from the Phoenix Suns. He averages 19.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. Avery Bradley averages 13.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Jared Sullinger averages 13.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Brandon Bass averages 10.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. Kelly Olynyk averages 10.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1 steal per game. Tyler Zeller averages 10.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, and Marcus Smart will also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Toronto is 2-5 ATS against Eastern Conference teams, 3-8 after a straight up win, 4-11 after scoring 100 points or more, 2-7 against Atlantic Division teams, 1-4 in Tuesday games and 2-9 after a cover. The road team is 4-1 ATS in this series recently. The underdog is 5-2 ATS in this series recently.

Boston is 4-0 ATS overall and against Eastern Conference teams, 6-1 against Atlantic Division teams, 5-1 after scoring 100 points or more, 14-3 against teams with winning records, 4-1 against teams with winning road records, 11-4-1 at home, 19-7 after a straight up win, 20-8 after a cover, and 5-2 after a straight up win of 10 points or more. The Celtics are 22-10-1 ATS against the Raptors recently including 8-2-1 in Boston.

Boston making the playoffs is a great accomplishment, especially after they traded star point guard Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks earlier this season. The Celtics could make some noise in the playoffs, although a properly motivated Cleveland team will be tough to beat. There is a chance Toronto could rest their stars tonight and be content with the #4 seed instead of trying to catch Chicago for the #3 seed. I haven’t heard that they will do that but a 4 point line swing from Toronto -2 to Boston -2 indicates it might happen. I think Boston wins a close game to solidify their playoff positioning.

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